Nordkapp (North Cape) is a small plateau with a 300m high cliff that plunges into the Arctic ocean. Regarded as a rite of passage for any explorer, Nordkapp has claimed the title ‘the northernmost point of mainland Europe’. However, the locals are quick to point out that their famous tourist attraction is actually on Magerøya (Lean Island) and to the left is point Knivskjellodden which is actually 1500m further north.
Even though Nordkapp is open all year, the most popular time to visit is late June when the midnight sun peaks. Honningsvåg is the last town before Nordkapp. This is where thousands of tourists take the bus through the Nordkapp underwater tunnel and over the barren hills to see the edge of the world. In summer you can see reindeer grazing on the moss and sea birds flying overhead. You can make a stop off at Gjesvær, a little fishing village that has a tour boat out to the largest sea bird colony in Norway. Along the way, you might see the old shelters left behind from the war. Rather than being evacuated by the occupying Germans, whole families escaped into the island wilderness to wait out the war. The cliffs also have remnants of past explorers who had to climb their way up using ropes and nails before there was a connection from the mainland. Even 19th century Ladies were known to brave the rocky cliffs in heeled shoes, to catch a glimpse of the Nordic heavens.
The Nordkapp carpark is often filled with hundreds of tourist buses. It can be quite a trek through the buses to the Nordkapphallen tourist centre. The centre has various displays about the history and industry of Nordkapp and a panoramic cinema that presents a birds-eye view of Nordkapp and surrounding areas. The centre has the usual cafe/bistro, toilets and souvenir shop, but downstairs is a bar lounge/function room with an unusual lighting design and a giant window in the cliff wall that showcases the midnight sun. A fun memento is to send home a postcard from the northernmost post office in the world.
Outside is why you came and where you want to be. The atmosphere is calm and gentle, as if the Arctic is too elegant for time – but the crisp air makes you alive and keeps you moving (otherwise your toes would freeze off). The view is very unexpected. You can’t look away because nature is suddenly talking to you. There are other monuments to see, like the Children of the World sculptures, but nothing beats seeing the midnight sun from the lookout.
So, is Nordkapp worth it? If you love nature and ‘awe’ at its beauty, then definitely yes!
Both the Nordkapp tunnel and Nordkapp site costs – per person and car. This money is used to help preserve and restore the environment from all the tourist traffic – so it’s a responsible fee.
Clothes: Make sure you dress very warm with solid warm shoes – even though there is heating in the centre you will want to go outside to the cliff to get the best views. The Arctic air is fresh and crisp but the winds of the North can still give you the shivers even in the hottest summers.